It can be scary making the leap from full-time job to being a freelancer.
I remember how daunting it was to leave my job and start out on my own. I was lucky enough to have jobs at great places to work, with decent pay, good colleagues, and interesting work. By going freelance, I was risking all of those benefits.
However, I was sure I’d be gaining a whole lot more – freedom to work where I want, when I want, the satisfaction of being my own boss and building a network of other freelancers to work with. But the prospect of finding clients and a steady stream of new business was quite scary.
If you’re thinking about going freelance, or have just started, here are a few tips that can help you find clients as a freelance. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea about the first few weeks of your new freelance life (but if you want more insight, take a look at my freelance book).
1. Make your previous employer your first client
You don’t need to break away from your employer as soon as you decide to go freelance. Most bosses are understanding of their employees wishing to move on and they appreciate you asking them to make a phased exit. They will appreciate you sticking around for a bit longer, giving them more time to hire the right person to replace you, more time for account handovers and ensuring that clients get the smoothest transition possible. You get the advantage of having guaranteed work for several days a week, while you stat to build a client portfolio. This will also help you set a decent day rate.
2. Update your online profiles
Before you start looking for work, take the time to get your CV in order, then update your LinkedIn, Twitter bio, etc. to reflect your new situation. Make sure you add details of your achievements at the role you just left and don’t just list your responsibilities – emphasise the results you achieved.
3. Network, network, network
Most freelancers get work from referrals and people they know, so ensure that everyone you are connected to knows you are available. Join a network that runs regular freelance events or check the likes of Eventbrite and Meetup for relevant events happening near you. This doesn’t always have to be face-to-face – LinkedIn, Twitter and simply emailing all of your contacts to let them know you are available for freelance work are all valuable activities.
4. Approach similar companies and agencies
Look up PR / digital / marketing / social agencies and send them your CV. Add a highly personalised cover note targeted at them. Say you’re freelance and can offer social media support and tell them how you can make a difference for their clients and company. They might have some opportunities for you there and then, but more likely they’ll keep in touch with you. Some of them may even have permanent roles going.
5. Contact specialist recruiters in your area
Recruiters will have jobs readily available for you, whether short-term or long-term contracts. I’ve had a great experience with the guys at VMA Group (tell them I sent you), but also check out Cloud Nine Recruitment. There are also plenty of freelance jobs going on sites like The Guardian and Indeed.
6. Reach out to freelancer communities
Try posting a message to the following Facebook groups, saying you’re looking for work:
A lot of people are members of more than one group, so make sure your post to each group is tailored and relevant.
This post first appeared on the Henshall Centre blog.